THE FRANKLIN COVER-UP -- CHILD ABUSE, SATANISM, AND MURDER IN NEBRASKA
CHAPTER 16: FOUR FIGHTERS WHO DIDN'T QUIT
Freeing America from the influence of those who protect and engage in official corruption -- from drug dealing to pedophilia, from abuse of public office to protection of satanism -- will depend on people who put fear behind them and stand for human dignity. The lives of four fighters who didn't quit, even under frightening conditions, give hope and encouragement for the fight to defeat the pedophile rings. I asked their friends to talk about these four people. I have incorporated their observations with some of my own.
PAUL BONACCI, A CHRISTIAN FIGHTING FOR LIFE
Two years ago, if anyone had told me, John DeCamp, that a person could have several distinct, real personalities within one body, I would have thought they had been reading too much science fiction, or living with Alice in Wonderland. Then, the Douglas County Grand Jury indictment of Paul Bonacci brought me deeper into the Franklin case, and the suffering of its victims. Paul Bonacci called me shortly after he was indicted, and I agreed to visit him in the jail where he was incarcerated for touching another boy on the outside of his pants.
Meeting with Paul, I have spoken to several of his personalities. Three psychiatrists who have examined him concurred in the diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder, brought on by horrible, traumatic abuse when he was a child. My first act with respect to representing Paul Bonacci was to have him write down everything he could remember, about individuals who had abused him, from his earliest boyhood. An excerpt from what he wrote appears in Chapter 10. In that document and in Paul's letters, his handwriting will vary, depending on which personality is in control.
Bonacci was sentenced to five years in prison in 1989, for molesting a young boy for whom he was baby-sitting. Apparently one of Paul's homosexual personalities was in control of him during the incident, in which he briefly put his hand on the outside of the young boy's pants, an activity stopped when a remorse-stricken Paul reasserted control. Despite testimony from family friends and church members, that this was out of character, and despite its being a first offense, the Omaha court "threw the book" at Paul. This was before Gary Caradori first interviewed Paul, but the Franklin case had broken, and it would have been known to those to whom it mattered, that Bonacci could be a key Franklin witness.
Paul Bonacci is not just a victim. He is an intelligent young man, who has entered a process of redemption. Bonacci was intentionally damaged, spiritually and physically, from a very early age. He was forced to participate in "headhunting" expeditions, luring younger boys into servitude.
Throughout his childhood, Paul fought desperately to survive hell. He was brutalized continuously. Once when he was very young and it was discovered he was going to tell about the abuse, he had hot metal shoved into his mouth. Now, Paul is in a fight for his life, and for the life of others. A person who, until quite recently, was involved in a life very immoral and dangerous to others, is now motivated to an effort to live by love and a sense of justice.
In letters and conversations with friends, Bonacci says that the mission of his life is to prevent other children from suffering what he has. He speaks of being strong in his Christian faith, and of his efforts to convert other inmates.
In a letter from prison, to a friend, Bonacci talked about his desire to serve others: "I'm a 23 year old man who loves God and wants to do the right thing to prevent other children from being abused. I'm against anyone harming a child in any way. I'm only wanting to see the men stopped from hurting others. They can kill me. I'm ready to die for what's right. If by my death I can prevent a child from being abused, 1'd do it."
In his written report on his victimization, Paul said, "I have in the past cowered and given up. I no longer can cower and give up, instead I must stand firm and with truth go forward and fight against the men and the evil they have done to myself and other young people. 'Perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.' 2 Timothy 3:1-9.
"This scripture just about says it all about the men who have used me and others. They can continue to deny these things before men, but the day will come when they will stand before God and He will know all and then they cannot deny. ... I have continued to speak the truth and for doing so I am now being put down as a liar. The only liars are those who continue to deny the terrible sins they have done. Also Troy and Danny who at first told the truth and then began to lie to save their own butts from indictments which everyone with a brain could see coming for the victims. I will stand firm in my faith and trusting in the Lord to show the truth in the end."
Paul has repeatedly been placed in situations of danger while in prison. He has been moved to different facilities, contrary to agreements worked out by me as his attorney. He was given food to which he was allergic, while his weight dropped, and he was denied a blanket for months. He has had no medical help for his Multiple Personality Disorder, induced by what Dr. Densen-Gerber called the "emotional Auschwitz" of ritual abuse.
Bonacci was beaten several times in jail. He has been placed in the same area in the jail with potentially violent people associated with Alan Baer and Larry King.
Since he testified before the Legislature's Franklin committee, Paul Bonacci has been under continual attack by the irregular troops, so to speak, of the Nebraska cover-up, such as the World-Herald and its reporter Bob Dorr, who have ridiculed him as a hoaxer.
Paul Bonacci's commitment to saving other children is evident in his willingness to be interviewed by investigators of child abuse. In order to remember details, Paul must go through the difficult process of allowing his different personalities to come forward and speak. If one personality can't remember, another might. The personalities were originally established, one by one, at the exact moments of psychological terror when Paul as a defenseless child was physically attacked. Some of the personalities are very young children, some are girls, some are boys, some are men. The process of calling them up, of assuming these different identities, often involves intense pain for Paul. If he didn't care, he wouldn't go through these difficult interviews.
ALISHA OWEN, PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE
"My statements are true. I'll never, never change my story. The truth is the truth," Alisha Owen said during her trial. The pressure on her to recant has been immense.
Alisha's strength and determination have become famous among her supporters in Nebraska. People who meet her now, often remark that she is motivated by love. One woman said that the first thing Alisha ever told her, was that she is strong in her religious faith and that she must and will do the right thing, "because the Lord will be here with me" through what she knows will be a long ordeal ahead.
Alisha Owen has been told she will have to serve a minimum of ten years, seven months of her sentence, even with "good time." Alisha's daughter, Amanda, has been inconsolable; until she saw Alisha in the courtroom at the sentencing hearing, she was convinced her mother was dead. At sentencing, Alisha read a statement, in which she blamed state prosecutor Gerald Moran, the World-Herald, and two of the men she accused of abusing her, Robert Wadman and Harold Andersen, for clouding the issues and fueling a climate of innuendo against her. "I couldn't change my story when the FBI asked me to," she said, "because I can look into the mirror and know I am telling the truth. Children ask for justice, while adults plead for mercy. Your honor, I stand before you here today and I ask for justice."
Even while she was a repeated victim of abuse, Alisha was an excellent student and a youth leader in her church. She is known as an intelligent and well organized person. During her trial, courtroom observers were impressed by her close attention and participation in all aspects of her legal defense. Meanwhile, the prosecution attempted to portray Alisha as an immoral person since childhood, the way a rapist's lawyers often try to depict the rape victim as a slut who invited and possibly deserved abuse. This courtroom performance reduced Alisha to tears several times.
As a teenager, Alisha gave birth to a child, who she strongly maintains was fathered by one of her abusers, Chief Wadman. Her parents have stood by her, and in support of her little daughter.
Even through her first months in jail, through the grand juries' denunciation and indictment of her, through its repetition by the World-Herald and CBS News, and through her long trial and sentencing, Alisha's supporters say, "her faith and strength have amazed us. She is always honest, loyal, and even maintains her sense of humor. Alisha maintains she will not give up until these perpetrators give up -- and she won't give up!"
Even though a court-appointed psychiatrist said that Alisha did not tolerate well being alone, during 1990 and 1991 she was held in solitary confinement longer than any other female inmate in the history of the Nebraska penal system. A friend of hers said, "Her determination was unchanged by being in solitary."
When she was 17, Alisha was discarded as a sexual object by the pedophiles. At that point, she was in a position to have become a trusted, and very wealthy, member of organized crime networks. Someone serving as a "mule," or youthful courier for criminal drug runners, would have narcotics worth hundreds of thousands of dollars pass through her hands. When Alisha started to talk to Franklin committee investigators, many deals were offered to her to make her stop. But her disgust and concern over what was happening to other children prevailed.
LORAN SCHMIT, FARMER, SENATOR, MAN WITH COURAGE
For the two years of its existence, Senator Loran Schmit chaired the Franklin committee of Nebraska's unicameral Legislature. It was disbanded against his recommendation.
Schmit has farmed all his life. He is the father of ten children, a grandfather, and has served in the Nebraska Legislature for twenty-three years. His work in the Legislature, on agricultural and water resources development in the state, is described by long-time associates as being of "legendary proportions." Senator Schmit has chaired the Agriculture, Public Works, and Natural Resources committees of the Legislature. He was a member of its Executive Board for eighteen years. In January 1991, when the Franklin committee was decommissioned, the newly elected Legislature stripped Schmit and its other members of key positions; Schmit lost his chairmanship of the Natural Resources committee.
Senator Schmit has worked as a crop duster. Of his more than 40,000 hours of flying time as a pilot, a majority has been in the dangerous occupation of low altitude crop dusting and seeding, in both fixed-wing craft and helicopters. His personal knowledge of aircraft boosted his certainty, that his investigator Gary Caradori's violent death was not accidental.
Loran Schmit is often moved close to tears, when he speaks about the work and the death of Caradori. In December 1990, meeting with the Ministerial Alliance in Omaha, he said he felt personally responsible for the death of the man he hired to investigate the Franklin Credit Union case.
Schmit has a longstanding reputation as a last resort for people trying to help children in trouble. As Franklin committee chairman, Schmit often stayed at his office late into the night, to pursue the investigation of the pedophile ring. After Caradori was killed, and the Franklin committee no longer had a professional investigator, Schmit remarked, "Gary had this remarkable knack of just putting on his casual clothes and going out to places where people had information and just sitting down with them and gaining their trust. That's how he brought in all these facts in the investigation. I know I can't do it like Gary did, but when I hear that someone has information for us I just put on my old clothes and go wherever I need to go and sit down with them, and try to get that information myself. Gary would have done it much better, but I try."
This senator, who often starts speeches by saying, "Well, I'm just a farmer, but here's what I think," is a plain-spoken man. The image before him, of setting the pace for the people of his state, and of keeping the faith with his martyred investigator, has proven Loran Schmit to be a man of courage. He has withstood threats and harassment. At the height of the Franklin committee investigation, a piece of gallows humor around the state house was to ask, "Who wants to go start Schmit's car tonight?"
There have been efforts to ruin Schmit financially, including by means of spurious lawsuits filed against him. The FBI launched several investigations of Schmit. He also found his legislative district so radically altered in a June 1991 redistricting, that his reelection became a long shot.
Unhappy about what he regards as a do-nothing attitude of a majority of state senators toward child abuse, Loran Schmit recently asked, "When does it happen that we cross the line and the passivity of the Senate makes us co-conspirators with corruption? We have to take action, and stop this abuse once and for all."
While most of the Legislature cowered, fellow Franklin committee members Senator Dan Lynch and Senator Bernice Labedz, especially, showed courage in standing by Senator Schmit to the day their committee was dissolved.
GARY CARADORI, MARTYR
Gary Caradori told the victim-witnesses of child abuse whom he interviewed, that he would die for them, if necessary. He died on July 11, 1990, at the age of 41, when his plane crashed in Illinois. His eight-year-old son was also killed.
During Alisha Owen's trial, FBI agent Rick Culver testified that Caradori's work for the Franklin committee was worthless. Former Police Chief Robert Wadman, posing as the wronged party, sued the state for damages, charging that Caradori's investigation caused him mental anguish. Wadman's claim against the state was turned down, and the lawsuit dismissed.
Mary Caradori has commented, that there were no such slanders of her son while he was alive. She calls him "a gentle, smiling man, a great man and the greatest investigator Nebraska has ever had." The man the World-Herald now smears as a Keystone Kop, she notes, was the youngest person ever to qualify as an investigator for the State Patrol. He was universally liked and respected, and he was "so bothered by what he was finding in the Franklin investigation that he just couldn't give it up."
"He worked on this investigation sometimes 24 or 48 hours without eating or sleeping," Caradori's mother recalls. "He looked so worn out I was worried about him. I told him, 'maybe you should give it up,' but he couldn't give it up. He didn't need this case, but he was just so dedicated."
Mary Caradori says that the accusation that Gary wanted to make a movie out of the Franklin case was a lie. She is angered by the Douglas County grand jury's suggestion that tape breaks in Caradori's videotaped interviews of victim-witnesses concealed his coaching them. "He would stop the tape when the kids would start to break down," she said. "He would always leave them their dignity. That is the kind of man he was. And he knew that they were victims of slavery and a Satanic cult. He knew that if the perpetrators aren't brought to justice, they will not stop."
A former Nebraska state patrolman, who later opened his own private investigative company, Caradori was known as a resourceful investigator. George Zahn, plant manager at the Monfort of Colorado meatpacking plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, told the World-Herald that Caradori "'did a very good job for us,' providing security and handling some investigations for Monfort for about seven years. 'He works any and all hours,' Zahn said. 'It doesn't make any difference to him. He's a person you can trust.'" Lincoln private investigator Edward H. Itzen, president of Metropolitan Protection Service, added, "I've never heard anything but good about him." Caradori once traveled to East Germany and found a woman's father, 39 years after they were separated. He rescued young girls who ran away from home and became caught up in prostitution in Las Vegas or California. Franklin committee counsel John Stevens Berry told the World-Herald, that Caradori is "the kind of guy who can check out the cat houses and find the child and get the kid out of there."
Looking back, Mary Caradori recalls Gary's anticipation that the Franklin case was about to break wide open. "You'd better believe there was a cover-up," she says. "My daughter-in-law and I were never notified about Gary and A.J.'s death. My friend had to tell me over the phone they were dead."
Gary Caradori's widow, Sandie, was his high school sweetheart. They had two sons. A.J., the younger, was an avid baseball fan, like his father. Departing for the All-Star Game, his grandmother recalls, A.J. was overjoyed that he would finally get to see his favorite big league players in person. "He was a wonderful little boy."
The Reverend James Bevel, civil rights leader, addressed Mary Caradori during his speech to a rally held by the Nebraska Leadership Conference in Lincoln in March 1991. He thanked her "for the gift of your son and grandson, who died for what is right." Senator Schrnit, to applause, declared that it is imperative to "leave no stone unturned," to find out why Gary and A.J. died.